Treating Thrush on the Nipples when Breastfeeding

One problem that breastfeeding mothers may face is thrush on their nipples. This is a fungal infection, also called candida albicans. Nipples provide the perfect place for thrush to grow as this natural bacteria prefers moist, sugary, warm places. This can cause problems for both the mother and the baby while breastfeeding, therefore it is important to ensure that this condition is treated quickly. Here is an overview of the symptoms of thrush, the problems that it can cause and how it can be treated.

Symptoms

Initially, thrush on the nipples can often be mistaken for simply having sore cracked nipples as a result of breastfeeding. This is because the nipples may become red or raw looking and appear smooth and shiny. If thrush is present on the nipples then there may be some whiter patches and the nipples may have a crusty appearance. Women will also experience pain both while breastfeeding and for a period afterwards. If the thrush has spread into the women’s milk duct then this will feel like a burning shooting pain in the breasts. The nipples will also feel sensitive and may burn or itch. Another indicator of possibly having thrush in the nipples is to look for signs of oral thrush in your baby’s mouth. You will notice white patches throughout their mouth including their gums and the roof of their mouth.

The effects

Having thrush on the nipples will make breastfeeding painful and difficult. It is also likely that you will pass the infection onto the baby and they may develop oral thrush. This can then pass through the digestive system and cause thrush on their genitals. This will look like nappy rash and will cause the same discomfort. It is important that both you and your baby are treated or else the infection will continue to pass from on to the other.

Treatment

It is important to seek the advice of the doctor with regards to treatment f thrush. Your baby may be given an oral medicine for their oral thrush and a cream for their bottom. You are likely to be prescribed the same, or a similar, cream for your breasts and nipples. This is usually applied after a feed and should be washed off before the next feed to prevent your baby swallowing the medication. The doctor will give specific instructions with regards to regularity of application, care instructions and how long you should be treated for.

There are also a number of steps that you can take to speed up recovery and prevent reinfection. Firstly you should make sure that you wash your nipples and breasts on a regular basis. Secondly, changing breast pads can be useful as this will help to keep the area dry. Finally, make sure that you continue to use the prescribed medication for as long as you have been advised even if it appears that the thrush has cleared up. If the area does not heal or becomes reinfected then it is essential that you seek further medical advice.

Conclusion

Thrush is a fungal infection that thrives in warm, moist areas. Thrush on the nipples is a problem that many breastfeeding mothers may experience and it can be passed between mother and baby leading to pain and difficulty in feeding. Treatment should be sought from a qualified medical practitioner and the mother should take steps to ensure that her breasts are clean and dry to help speed up treatment.